Easter! Spring! New beginnings; new life! This is the time of year in which we re-evaluate, reschedule and reinvigorate our lives. And the magazines and papers are full of helpful advice on how to lose weight, gain the perfect body, have the ultimate summer wardrobe and the perfect holiday. And if we achieve all that, we’ll be happy! Will we? I’m not so sure! Because psychological well being doesn’t necessarily rely on these things.
As a veteran of some 22 house moves, I would like to put forward that a good clear out supersedes a glut of gym visits, a dose of sunshine and a spending spree on the internet. The old fashioned concept of ‘spring cleaning’ has come to mean a wipe down of the skirting boards; a return to the attic of some unused objects and some stain removal on the carpet. But it can be so much more!
One of my many house moves involved putting everything into storage, moving abroad and not seeing my ‘stuff’ for another 6 months. It took about six weeks before I realised that I didn’t really care whether I saw it all again, in fact I secretly hoped that the Bay of Biscay might claim it all, apart from my piano which I fantasised might miraculously survive the waves and wash up unscathed on a French beach somewhere, perfectly tuned. In reality, when the loaded container turned up, the kids had outgrown all their clothes, didn’t want their old toys and pound for pound, we could have bought brand new white goods rather than ship ours. And the piano was out of tune! Such irony in the desire for continuity.
So, I’d like to propose a whole new way of moving house! You take anything that’s important to you. Pictures, papers, clothes and favoured kitchen stuff. Maybe some garden tools, your bike and the linen. AND the piano. The list needn’t be exhaustive but you LEAVE all the rest! And so do the people into whose house you move. That’ll sort the men out from the boys. They deal with your ‘unwanted’. You deal with theirs. Without the sentimentality, it’ll all be so much more efficient!
But I do recognise the problems My mother, aged 80, is in the process of moving once again. The silent fight has been fearsome. She wants to keep everything. Which, if she’s to move to Sandringham will be just fine and dandy. But she’s not. Trying to pare down personal belongings is the hardest thing in the world for anyone, let alone the elderly for whom the past gains greater importance day by day. The faster I have packed things away, the quicker she has become in taking them out and putting them back where they have always belonged. Neither of us is sure who is losing our marbles fastest.
Suffice to say, the ability to ‘let go’ is a determined mindset. Someone once said to me ‘keep your family photos in a fireproof box because they’re all that really matter’. It’s advice that has bubbled at the forefront of my mind for a long time. They were right. Those memories are the most important things in the world.
But at a time when nature is waking up and starting again, we can do the same. A clearout of the clutter leads to a clearer head; a cast off of the past leaves us ready to embrace the future and open to the optimism of the future.